Uncanny X-Men #229
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #229
And it's really a cool set-up. Claremont had been making motions towards making the X-Men a sort of outlaw strikeforce, and now they've got a truly secret headquarters and the ability to immediately teleport anywhere in the world, take care of business, and then leave without any hard evidence of them being there. And that ability is first previewed in a warped but effective way by showing the same abilities being used by the current occupants of their soon-to-be headquarters: the Reavers.
We begin in Singapoor, at the Hoan International Bank. A group of cyborgs suddenly appear and start shooting things up.
In addition to engaging in a massacre, the cyborgs loot the bank's vault, and kidnap Jessan Hoan, the niece of the bank's president who had the backbone to stand up to them.
She's taken because she's a "financial wiz".
The cyborgs, who refer to themselves as Reavers then disappear the same way they arrived.
The named Reavers are Bonebreaker (the leader, the guy with the treadmill bottom), Skullbuster, and Pretty Boy.
We find that their method of teleportation is an old Aborigine named Gateway.
Gateway is serving the Reavers against his will, due to the threat that the Reavers will desecrate his holy place and cause his people to "wander the dreamlands, slave to the outsign spirits". I never gave that phrase much thought and took it to be a reference to Aboriginal lore, but Nathan Adler at FanFix has a whole theory about that.
As the Reavers engage in post-looting revelry, and the Reaver called Pretty Boy engages in some classic Claremontian mind-rape...
...the X-Men begin their surprise attack. Interestingly, Longshot is particularly outraged over Pretty Boy's actions towards Jessan Hoan, which he refers to as "stealing her days" and "replacing her lifelight with his own". He later calls the Reavers "spineless", the biggest insult someone from the Mojoverse can deliver, for giving up their "birthright flesh" and replacing it with machinery.
The X-Men actually have a fairly easy time with the Reavers.
The biggest setback is when Bonebreaker touches Rogue.
Bonebreaker, Skullbuster, and Pretty Boy escape via Gateway, and Wolverine nearly kills the old guy, but Storm stops him.
Then the question is what to do with the remaining Reavers. The X-Men don't have the means to get them to a court trial and imprisoned. Killing them is considered. But luckily Roma shows up with an alternative. She unveils the Siege Perilous, and tells them that whoever is sent through the portal will be "judged by the highest of powers".
In Alan Moore's Captain Britain series, Mighty World of Marvel #13, there was a Portal Perilous that the deceased Merlin's body was sent through so that he could be sent back to eternity. This seems like the same or a similar device. I also understand from rather sparse accounts i've found on the internet that Chris Claremont also has a Siege Perilous in his earlier Captain Britain books (which are on my queue but i haven't gotten to yet). Siege is Latin for "to sit" and the Siege Perilous of Arthurian legend was the seat reserved by Merlin at the Round Table for the knight that would find the Holy Grail, and it was "perilous" for anyone else to sit in it. "Portal Perilous" therefore seems to make a lot more sense as a name for this device.
But nonetheless, this device is the final element for the X-Men's new set-up. Now that they can attack anywhere in the world, but are acting outside of the law, this allows them to dish out justice without killing. Roma also tells the X-Men that this is the last time she can show up to help the X-Men, so that we won't constantly have her deus ex machina-ing the X-Men out of conundrums. Roma also cryptically tells the X-Men that she is "in many ways... younger than you" even though she's been appearing since Claremont's Captain Britain #1.
The X-Men give the Reavers the choice of the portal or Wolverine, and they wisely choose the portal. It seems like Jessan Hoan might be put through the portal too, but Longshot, Madelyne, and Havoc advocate against that, and the X-Men prevail upon Roma one final time, and she agrees to teleport Jessan back to the carnage at her bank in Singapore (thanks?). "From her lips, your legend will begin to grow", according to Roma.
Hoan is referred to as "tiger", "tiger-lady", and "little tiger" by the Reavers in this story, and she'll later become Tyger Tiger, a crime lord of Madripoor.
It's an exciting first outing for the post Fall of the Mutants X-Men, with nice action by Silvestri and the promise of a good new premise.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 430,158. Single issue closest to filing date = 461,011.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We need the X-Men to be settled in at their Australian headquarters before Alpha Flight #61 which has other dependencies due to a lot of cameo appearances. So i've pushed this and next issue back in publication time. Since next issue takes place on Christmas and X-Factor #27, which takes place the day after Fall of the Mutants, also takes place on Christmas, i've pushed this back in publication time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBonebreaker, Colossus, Dazzler, Gateway, Havok, Longshot, Madelyne Pryor, Pretty Boy, Psylocke, Rogue, Roma, Skullbuster, Storm, Tyger Tiger, Wolverine
Note that this issue, Betsy wants to kill the Reavers, and doesn't want to let Tyger Tiger go. More evidence of Claremont darkening her as a character.
Posted by: Michael | May 31, 2014 3:10 PM
The limitations of the X-Men's invisibility are always unclear. Their new base's computers can detect them, and Nimrod later seems to be able to, though not Master Mold by himself--the implication being that living, sentient machines can detect them but not normal ones. How this proviso might apply to magic and demons is anybody's guess, but Sym's and Nastirh's communications with Maddie never seemed problematic to me. Note, by the way, that Sym first contacts her through the base's computer/Gateway.
Do we ever get an explanation for the Reavers? Later we get some stray lines of dialogue that suggest, without clearly confirming, they're all created by Donald Pierce. But why? And why are they robbers--which is what "reaver" means--when a guy like pierce doesn't need money? And did Claremont ever intend a connection with the Joshua Stragg "Reaver" from the first Captain Britain story? I'd think not, but the Roma appearance here shows Claremont isn't forgetting about those old stories.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 31, 2014 4:50 PM
I don't think anyone told Claremont that "Abo" was considered a racial slur.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 31, 2014 4:51 PM
I really liked the Reavers. They looked cool with Silvestri drawing them and I think Claremont could have gotten more mileage out of them if he had been more focused. But that's a problem I have with the Outback period in general. It's pretty good but doesn't hold up as well when viewed as a whole. But, at the time, I was digging it a lot. At least the Silvestri issues.
Posted by: Robert | May 31, 2014 5:07 PM
Walter, the entry on wiki explains it all:
They were reassembled under Donald Pierce. This group included three of the original Reavers who were created by Pierce after their disastrous battle with Wolverine.
Posted by: clyde | May 31, 2014 11:27 PM
Claremont takes the idea of the Siege Perilous as a gateway directly from Andre Norton's 1963 novel Witch World where she incorporated the legend that the only knight worthy to sit on it was Galahad and that all the others who tried were transported to the world they were meant to live in. This is not the first time he would mine Norton's work for X-Men. While Byrne later claims that Days of Future Past was his idea, methinks he is taking a little too much credit since the mutant camps idea is practically identical to the slave labour camps the Espers were forced into in Norton's short story Wizard's World collected in High Sorcery. Claremont obviously came up with the concept for Uncanny X-Men since this story by Norton has enslaved Espers "brain-twisted" into becoming Hounds that hunt psychically for E-camp escapees, an idea that he completely ripped off for Rachel Grey's background.
And here we have another Gateway, at the same time Claremont introduced Gateway Technologies in Excalibur #2 built right near the stone-structure (can't recall if it is the real Stonehenge or an analogue) where Brian Braddock originally got his Captain Britain powers. And Brian was originally chased to that spot by a terrorist called The Reaver, Joshua Stragg? We still don't know who Pierce's original Reavers were referred to here either, so was Stragg one his original Reavers? And seeing as how Gateway Technologies is a gutted-out-ruin, one might say, WHO gutted it? Was it the Reaver? Was it several Reavers? Curious that a "Reaver" chased Brian to the stonehenge structure, where he first encountered Merlin and Roma. And now we have another Gateway, this one enslaved by the Reavers, until the Reavers are defeated by the X-Men, who were basically pointed at them - like bullets out of a gun - with the trigger person being Roma. So we've got a "Gateway" and a "Reaver" at two separate parts of Earth. And in both places, Roma is there, not only taking an interest but influencing events. What is the significance of those two locations? Also recall Psylocke was destined to become Captain Britain but events transpired against this becoming reality when she was rendered blind, after which she fell into the hands of Mojo who set her on the path to begin fantasising about becoming more cybernetic. Would she perhaps become the perfect host for the Fury? And just what was the relationship between this Gateway and Gateway Technologies in Excalibur?
Posted by: Nathan Adler | June 1, 2014 12:14 AM
I love that you know Andre Norton's works too! Awesome.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | June 1, 2014 1:10 AM
Michael wrote: "It seems like Claremont threw in the line about being invisible to spells to explain why Illyana couldn't use her magic to detect the X-Men, then was told that Maddie had to be turned into the Goblyn Queen, and realized there was no way to do that if S'ym couldn't find her. But unfortunately, it still raises the question of why the X-Men were invisible to Illyana's magics but not S'ym's, since it doesn't make sense for Roma to have done that deliberately."
This is further broken when Mr. Jip spys on them using spells in next year's Atlantis Attacks Annual story and is pretty much forgotten completely after the X-tinction Agenda crossover.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | June 1, 2014 1:35 AM
A theory proposed by Uncannyxmen.net is that the invisibility will eventually dissapear as a result of... The lighthouse being destroyed or something?
Posted by: Max_Spider | June 4, 2014 6:10 PM
But that doesn't work since the X-Men had already lost their invisibility by the X-Tinction Agenda, the X-Tinction Agenda takes place before Excalibur 50 and the lighthouse was destroyed in Excalibur 50.
Posted by: Michael | June 4, 2014 8:53 PM
Walter, I assume Pierce built the Reavers to have a personal army to do what he wanted. The robberies they do are likely for themselves, not him. It's likely with his other Hellfire Club members having their own private armies (other mutants, like the Hellions) he wanted his own as well.
I dislike Roma showing up this issue - it's a real Deus Ex Machina to avoid the inevitable morality issues. It was fine when she resurrected them before, but having her show up again now just indicated she would show up anytime in the future whenever they needed help, which reduced the jeopardy in their fights. If Roma had given them the Siege Perilous in the previous issue, I'd have been OK with it.
Posted by: Chris | June 16, 2014 10:09 PM
I thought they lost their invisibility when they went through the siege perilous.
Posted by: clyde | June 16, 2014 10:22 PM
No, Longshot, Storm and Wolverine never went through the Siege Perilous and Ali and Betsy were still invisible after going through the Siege Perilous.
Posted by: Michael | June 16, 2014 10:50 PM
While it's never clearly explained where the Reavers came from, think I finally have worked it out. In Uncanny X-Men #251, Donald Pierce refers to Pretty Boy, Bone Breaker and Skullbuster as the "last of my original Reavers". Then in Uncanny X-Men #252, he says to all the Reavers: "My genius crafted the bionics systems that make you all far more than human or mutant. And what I built, I can just as easily destroy", and then notes that Lady Deathstrike is different since she was turned into a cyborg by Spiral. While Cole, Macon and Reese were operated on by Spiral in Uncanny X-Men #205, they were described as cyborgs as far back as Uncanny X-Men #152, and since Pierce was with the Hellfire Club then it makes sense he was responsible for their original cybernetics and Spiral just upgraded them when she operated on Yuriko.
So Claremont hadn't left it as a dangler, just us fans weren't paying enough attention;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | December 27, 2014 1:56 AM
This was indeed a very strange time to be reading this book. It was a big shock to suddenly have them operating out of Australia and with this ability to teleport anywhere.
But, until the team starts dismantling, about a year and a half after this, this really was a very strong run, with the Brood, the introduction of Genosha and then Inferno and finally, (finally) meeting X-Factor and getting that out of the way.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 27, 2015 11:43 AM
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